© by Sheral Schowe
It's hard to stop talking about Australian wines when they keep improving every year. Notice how our selection is growing on the shelves of most wine stores and you'll realize what portion of the market share that part of the world controls. Last week I focused on the high rollers, the wines for the well-heeled. Those are in my cellar for just the right occasion, or person. In the meantime, here are a few new finds that will suit most pocketbooks for daily enjoyment with your meals.
If you are tired of searching for a dry-styled Riesling at a great price, try Leasingham Bin 7 Riesling 1997 ($8.35) from the Clare Valley, 140 kilometers north of Adelaide in South Australia. Leasingham, established in 1893, is the premier producer of Riesling in Australia and it's no wonder. The style is as dry as an Alsatian Riesling with a powerful lime citrus finish. It is a refreshing change to the overly sweet, uninteresting domestic Rieslings on the market today. Remember that it is no bargain if it doesn't compliment the food. This Riesling is so crisp and clean, you will enjoy it with a wide range of foods, from sushi, to a burger with onion rings and catsup. Sounds bizarre, I know, but it really does work.
Now for a Chardonnay that should be on every restaurant's wine by the glass list. Hardy's Chardonnay 1999 ($5.95) from South Eastern Australia is full flavored with upfront tropical fruit, complimented by a slight touch of oak. It is crisp and bright, with good texture on the mid palate. When is the last time you tasted the inherently apple flavors of a Chardonnay without the smothering effect of oak? It is a win-win choice for restaurateurs and their customers, both in price and in surprising quality.
The red grape that put Australia on the wine map is definitely Shiraz. Banrock Station Shiraz 1999 ($9.95) is one of my favorites for every day drinking and complimenting a variety of food styles. The aromas are of pepper, baking spices, and berry. It is incredibly rich with plum and boysenberry cobbler flavors with soft vanilla oak. This winery appeals to my environmental interests in that a percentage of their profits each year is donated to preserving wetlands around the world.
In South Australia's Riverland, where their vineyards are located, Banrock Station has been instrumental in reestablishing natural wetlands for native waterbirds. In spite of the great expense to accomplish this, Banrock believes that it is essential to protect and preserve the natural ecosystem for future generations. When you select Banrock Station's Shiraz, it is nice to know that you are making a contribution to the environment as well as to the dinner table.
Australia is becoming the capital of fusion cuisine, where a variety of ethnic influences are combined in one dish. It is a country of amazing diversity, and the wines crafted in Australia are made to pair with a wide range of flavor combinations. At these prices, it is an affordable way to try some new, food friendly wines.
Aug. 15, 2000